Sex Trafficking Expanded Fact Sheet

27 million: Number of people in modern-day slavery across the world

800,000: Number of persons trafficked across international borders each year

17,500: Number of foreign nationals who are trafficked into the U.S. every year

50: Percent of all victims are children

$50 Million: US Government budget for efforts against human trafficking

218 Million: Estimated number of children working aged between five and seventeen

126 Million: Estimated number of children who work in the worst forms of child labor - one in every twelve of the world's five to seventeen year olds

While exact data are hard to come by, UNIFEM estimates the number of trafficked persons range from 500,000 to two million per year, and a few organizations have estimated that up to four million persons are trafficked every year. Although women, men, girls and boys can become victims of trafficking, the majority of victims are female. Various forms of gender-based discrimination increase the risk of women and girls becoming affected by poverty, which in turns puts them at higher risk of becoming targeted by traffickers, who use false promises of jobs and educational opportunities to recruit their victims.Trafficking is often connected to organized crime and has developed into a highly profitable business that generates an estimated US$7-12 billion per year.

Trafficking is in most cases a trans-border crime that affects all regions of the world: according to a 2006 UN global report on trafficking, 127 countries have been documented as countries of origin, and 137 as countries of destination. The main countries of origin are reported to be in Central and South-Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Asia, followed by West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The most commonly reported countries of destination are in Western Europe, Asia and Northern America. By 2006, 93 countries had prohibited trafficking as a matter of law.


The United Nations Protocol against Trafficking in Persons - the foremost international agreement in this area - entered into force in 2003. As of November 2008, 63% of the 155 countries and territories that provided information for this report had passed laws against trafficking in persons addressing the major forms of trafficking1. Another 16% had passed anti-trafficking laws that cover only certain elements of the Protocol definition.2 In 2003, only one third of the countries covered by this report had legislation against human trafficking; at the end of 2008, four-fifths did. The number of countries having anti-trafficking legislation more than doubled between 2003 and 2008 in response to the passage of the Protocol. In addition, 54% of responding countries have established a special anti-human trafficking police unit, and more than half have developed a national action plan to deal with this issue.


Surprisingly, 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers.

Some examples:


% of women convicted for all crimes

% of women convicted in Trafficking










Czech Republic







Victims of human trafficking were identified through the criminal justice process and through victims' assistance organizations. Over 21,400 victims were identified in 2006 among the 111 countries reporting victim data for that year. In the 61 countries where the gender and age of the victim were specified, two thirds of the identified victims were women and 13% were girls.

In the 52 countries where the form of exploitation was specified, 79% of the victims were subjected to sexual exploitation.

Another source of the number of trafficked victims was from IOM (Int'l Organization of Migration).  Between 1999-2007, there are 12,681 trafficked victims assisted by IOM, 83% are females, 50% of the case load are between 18-24, and 20% are below 18 years old.  67% are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority (up to 100% in parts of West Africa).

Trafficking Flows:

Although trafficking seems to imply people moving across continents, most exploitation takes place close to home. Data show intra-regional and domestic trafficking are the major forms of trafficking in persons, though most of these cases go unreported due to restrictive definitions of trafficking or the greater visibility of foreign victims.

In most of the reported cases, victims were moved across international borders.

Cross-border flows are not necessarily long distance flows. Much of the cross-border trafficking activity was between countries of the same general region, particularly between neighbouring countries. But there was also evidence of intercontinental trafficking. Most remarkably, victims from East Asia were detected in more than 20 countries in regions throughout the world, including Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Other long distance flows include the trafficking of African victims to locations in Europe and North America; the trafficking of Latin American victims to North America and Europe; the trafficking of Central European, Eastern European and Central Asian victims to Europe and the Middle East; and the trafficking of South Asian victims to the Middle East.

What we can do:

More must be done to reduce the vulnerability of victims, increase the risks to traffickers, and lower demand for the goods and services of modern-day slaves", Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa

"This Report increases our understanding of modern slave markets, yet it also exposes our ignorance", said Mr. Costa. "We have a big picture, but it is impressionistic and lacks depth. We fear the problem is getting worse, but we can not prove it for lack of data, and many governments are obstructing", he admitted. The head of UNODC therefore called on governments and social scientists to improve information-gathering and -sharing on human trafficking.

Trafficking reports:

UN Global Report on Trafficking in Persons  - February 2008:

UNIFEM's facts & figures on Violence against Women:

IOM's World Migration Report 2008 - chapter on Trafficking:

Useful websites/information sources:

UNODC - United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

The only U.N. entity focusing on the criminal justice element of Traffickin:

12 February 2009, Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino appointed UNODC Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking

5 March, 2009 - UNODC launches Blue Heart campaign against human trafficking. The blue heart will raise awareness about a crime that shames us all. It shows solidarity with the victims" said Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa. People are encouraged to replace their Facebook profile picture with a blue heart.


UNODC  - Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons:

The overarching goals of this Toolkit are those of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. These goals are:

·         To prevent and combat trafficking

·         To protect and assist its victims

·         To promote international cooperation

In pursuit of these goals, the Toolkit seeks to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information among policymakers, law enforcers, judges, prosecutors, victim service providers and members of civil society who are working at different levels towards these same objectives. Specifically, the Toolkit is intended to provide guidance, showcase promising practice and recommend resources in thematic areas. UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations. Established in 1976, it provides financial and technical assistance to innovative approaches aimed at fostering women's empowerment and gender equality.

Nicole Kidmann is UNIFEM's spokeperson. : An intergovernmental organization established in 1951, International Organization of Migration (IOM) is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.

-   125 members and 94 observers including 18 states and 76 global and regional IGOs and NGOs, more than 430 field locations

-   Approximately 6,690 staff working on more than 2,030 projects

-   US$ 1 billion expenditures in 2008 The US government' State Department created the Office to Monitor and combat Trafficking of Persons. This office has written a report on "Action to Modern Day Slavery" which outlines the facts, problems and concerns. Nicholas Donabet Kristof is an American journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. He has written an op-ed column for The New York Times since November 2001 and is widely known for bringing to light human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, such as sex trafficking, human trafficking and the Darfur genocide. The purpose of this Web site is to bring Government and NGOs in the East Asia and Pacific together to cooperate and learn from each other's experiences in their efforts to combat human trafficking. This Web site has country-specific information such as national laws and action plans and contact information on useful governmental agencies. It also has a description of NGO activities in different countries and their contact information.

Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline
Toll-free: 1-888-373-7888
Run by the Covenant House, sponsored by HHS in collaboration with the Department of Justice, to allow victims of trafficking to be instantly referred to a pre-screened aid organization in the victim's area.

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